Hi, I'm Harriet Williams DipHB (KGH), qualified hypnobirthing teacher and founder of Every Breath. I qualified as a KG Hypnobirthing teacher in 2018, after which I had the privilege of training with Hollie de Cruz (aka the yesmum®) to become an official yesmum® birth project affiliate teacher.
My aim as a hypnobirthing teacher is to provide a safe, relaxing and friendly environment to learn in, along with the tools and support you need to feel empowered, confident and excited about birth and the parenting journey ahead. I teach private and group classes across Devon and Somerset (find out more).
Let me tell you a little bit about how I came to be here, so you can decide if I'm the right hypnobirthing teacher for you...
My hypnobirthing journey began when I was about 20 weeks pregnant with my son. Like many women, I had spent my entire life up until that point being utterly terrified about the thought of birth. When I fell pregnant, I started to become more and more anxious about the thought of going to hospital. Having never been to hospital in my life, I just didn't know what to expect.
I was scared about the car journey, scared about walking down unfamiliar corridors, and scared about being in a room full of equipment, surrounded by people I didn't know, in a situation totally out of my control.
I needed to do something, so I did what we all do...I turned to google. That's when I discovered hypnobirthing. Practicing hypnobirthing gave me something proactive to focus on throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. I was taking control of my birth experience and that felt incredibly comforting. As the weeks went on and I learned about the physiology of birth and the options available to me, I felt more and more confident. By the time I was 36 weeks pregnant, I can honestly say I felt zero fear about giving birth. Whatever might happen, whether I would end up in a birth pool, an operating theatre, or the back of a car, I was completely prepared and utterly excited.
I had the skills to get my brain out of the way and relax my body to allow the muscles do what they needed to do.
My birth experience (which you can read about below if you'd like to) was the most amazing experience of my life, something that I completely credit to the fact that I went into it with no fear, but with total confidence that my body could do it and that I could handle whatever happened.
Hypnobirthing gave me all of this, but even more, the skills I learned have stayed with me and helped me become a calmer, stronger, more confident person. I became a hypnobirthing teacher so that I could help other woman to feel excited, empowered and capable when it comes to birth, because having a positive birth experience can genuinely change the rest of your life.
Harriet's birth story...
It was Saturday 4th March, the day before Mother's Day, four days past my due date, and I was chomping at the bit for my labour to start. I woke up around 8am, and in that moment between sleep and awake, I thought I heard a sharp "pop". I tentatively got up from the bed to check for water, but there was nothing, I thought I must have dreamed it.
I started to FaceTime my sister who, like the rest of the world (it seemed), were desperate to hear news of my impending arrival. While we were chatting, I suddenly felt a trickle of wetness. "Umm, can I call you back? I need to go to the loo a minute."..."Oh my gosh! Are you going into labour? Take me with you to the loo!!"... I hung up went to the loo to investigate, and there was a definite wet patch. My husband came upstairs with the tea and I told him not to get excited, but I was going to call the hospital just to see what they thought. The midwife on the phone said it sounded like it could be my waters, and to come in and check. I immediately jumped in the shower (because if I was going into labour I wanted to have washed hair and shaved legs!)
We arrived at the hospital and somewhere between the car park and the maternity ward, the remainder of my waters went. We chuckled as I waddled rather soggily into the examination room, and the midwife confirmed that my waters had broken. She advised us to go home, get comfy and wait for labour to start! Off we went, grinning from ear to ear. The midwife had told us that if labour didn't start naturally within the next 12 hours, I'd have to come back in for induction, so I really focussed to trying to be positive that labour would start before that point. We got home around 11am, ate tuna sandwiches and blueberries, and at midday I had my first contraction.
It wasn't at all what I'd expected, I felt it in the small of my back rather than at the front (I've since learned that was because my baby was sitting back to back), and where I had planned to kneel over my birthing ball to do my breathing, I found that I was actually much more comfortable standing up. The contractions came and went, sometimes every few minutes, sometimes with 30 minute gaps. Each time I put my arms around my husbands neck, and breathed deeply while he rubbed my lower back. At around 6pm, the contractions were coming every minute or two, and they were short, sometimes only 30 seconds, but intense.
My husband suggested we call the hospital, but when the midwife asked me how I was and I replied "yes I'm fine, I mean they're pretty intense but it's ok", she suggested we wait at home a bit longer. Half an hour later, I felt like I was in my own, calm, focussed little world. I told my husband that I wanted to go upstairs, and he told me that he was going to get the car started.
I hated the thought of driving to hospital because I only felt comfortable managing my contractions while I was standing up. But as we drove to hospital I breathed even more deeply and tried to block everything else out.
When we arrived at the hospital, they were slightly surprised to see us, and it felt like forever before we were buzzed into the maternity ward. Several contractions came and went, and I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. As I lay on a bed to be examined, my breathing seemed to have gone out the window and I had a powerful contraction that I felt like I just couldn't handle. The midwife said I was 4cm dilated, and took us to a delivery room. On the way down the corridor I had two more powerful contractions and I recall saying to my husband "will you judge me if I have an epidural?!"
When we got into the room, the midwife raised the bed so that I could stand next to it and hold onto the bedrail for support, and then she asked if I'd like to try some gas and air. I was tempted to reply "No! Give me something real!" but another contraction was coming and I decided to give it a try. Oh, glorious, wonderful gas and air! Taking a big breath in on the mask just gave me the nudge I needed back into my slow, deep breathing that I had practised so hard, and that had gotten me this far. The contractions came, powerful and strong, but I was fine. Totally fine. I was back in my place of calm control again and I remember thinking (rather tentatively) "if this is as bad as it gets, then I can totally do this".
The period that followed was honestly one of the most primal experiences of my life. Time lost all meaning, everyone, everything in the room faded away, and my mind was far away while my body completely took over and did it's own thing. I was vaguely aware that I was moving, sinking downwards, my legs getting wider and wider apart. My husband said afterwards that I seemed sort of in a trance, breathing deeply and swaying wildly (I like to imagine it was reminiscent of Britt Eckland in 'The Wicker Man', but in reality I suspect it was somewhat less graceful).
I wasn't pushing, I wasn't doing anything other than breathing, but I could feel this downward pressure with each contraction. I remember saying to the midwife "I feel like he's trying to burst his way out...?" and she replied, kindly "I know it feels a bit like that but it's going to be a little while yet. You seem very calm..." Another contraction... "I really do feel like he's trying to come out." The midwife came over and said "Ok well it's always best to trust the woman's instincts, so lets get your trousers off and have a look..." She helped me wriggle off my joggers, crouched down and looked between my legs. "Oh! He's crowning!" That little exchange of conversation is one of the few things I remember really vividly, probably because it was the only time that I came 'into the room' and spoke to anyone. She pressed the magic button to call another midwife into the room, and in the meantime, asked my bemused husband to grab some towels.
On the next contraction, I felt the baby's head pop out. We all stood there, waiting with baited breath, and then the next contraction came and out slid the rest of him. I'd done it!
I climbed onto the bed, pulled off my t-shirt and triumphantly held out my arms for my baby, who was promptly plopped onto my chest in all his slimy glory. I cannot describe to you the feelings I felt in that moment. Here was my tiny baby that I had just given birth to. I had actually done it! Strong, amazing, me! The feeling of achievement and love and pure viking-warrior-lioness-queen of the world-ness was just the greatest feeling of my life.
I suddenly remembered that it was Mother's Day the next day, "Is it midnight yet??" I asked. My husband laughed at me and replied "It's 8:30pm. We've been here an hour and a half."
Beau Williams, 6 lb 7 oz
Now let's help you have your best birth experience...